Manifesto for the Economy of Life

Below is an excerpt from the São Paulo Statement on International Financial Transformation for the Economy of Life (World Council of Churches, 2012). We would love to hear your thoughts on this manifesto. Is there anything you would add to the creed? Does it speak from (and to) the intersection of faith, economics and justice?  The 2008 global financial and economic crash increased poverty and unemployment among millions in the global North and worsened and deepened poverty, hunger and malnutrition among even larger numbers in the global South, already experiencing decades of poverty and deprivation caused by injustices in international financial and economic relations. A system of speculation, competition and inadequate regulation has failed to serve the people and instead has denied a decent standard of life to the majority of the world’s population. The situation is urgent. Critical theological reflection on the material and collective bases of life has been intrinsic to the call to be faithful disciples of Christ and has expressed itself through theological contemplative praxis that has sought transformative liberation from unjust socio-political, cultural and economic structures, thereby promoting the fullness of life for all creation. Modernity has, however, brought with it an economic model based on profit and self-interest disconnected from faith and ethics. This has led to the ideological justification of colonialism, the despair of...

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São Paulo Statement on the Economy of Life

In late September, 2012, economists, church leaders, activists, politicians and theologians gathered in  São Paulo, Brazil, to respond to and continue work around issues of economic, social and ecological justice. Together, these ecumenical leaders envisioned an alternative global financial and economic architecture, building on several seminal confessions, statements and call’s to action from the last decade. The São Paulo Statement: International Financial Transformation for the Economy of Life is well-worth a read. In particular, I was inspired by the introductory creed on pages 3 and 4. The manifesto follows a format of rejection and affirmation, thus: We reject the explosion of monetisation and the commodification of all of life, an economy that is driven by debt and financialisation, the ideology of consumerism, increasing individualistic consumerism, an economy of over-consumption and greed, neoliberal capitalism which conditions us psychologically to desire more and more, and the economic abstraction of Homo Oeconomicus which constructs the human person as being essentially insatiable and selfish. We affirm a theology of grace, an economy of forgiveness, caring and justice, an economy of Manna which provides sufficiently for all and negates the idea of greed, the diversity and interconnectedness of life and interdependent relationships with the created order, an economy of sufficiency that promotes restraint, and that we are called to think not only of our own interests but also of the interests of others. This...

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The Not So Simple Life

We would love to hear your stories and ideas at the end of this on how we can live simpler in a world that is demanding that we consume and do so much more? Mother and freelance copywriter, Julie Williams gives us an honest glimpse into how she is grappling with this in her own life. A funny thing happened as I settled down to write this piece. I was going to fill it with inspiring thoughts on the art of living simply. But then I got blind-sided. By the giant log in my own eye. You see, my story of living simply is not as simple as I’d like to admit. Let me let you in on some of my struggles, in the hope that we’ll find real simplicity on the other side of complexity… A few months ago, our beloved domestic help, child minder, kitchen whisperer and general wonder woman of grace, Fez, was diagnosed with cancer. Amidst all the thoughts I have grappled with in response, the one that I have felt most frequently and acutely is this: “Life sucks for me right now.” Yes. I did just write that. And I’ve thought it a hundred times. Life sucks. For me. Right now. As a mother with 3 small kids, and a freelancing career that I...

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How a Religious Upbringing Affects the Views and Values of Money

Recently, I had the pleasure and good fortune to tour a class of second graders, proudly showing off a set of budgeting projects. In an attempt to learn about subtraction, addition, and the general wisdom of money management, they had, for several weeks, all been living (at least during math class) in a constructed world in which they were the heads of households – managing planned debits and credits, as well as surprise setbacks and windfalls provided by their teacher. At numerous times throughout the project they had to make decisions about spending and saving, which was logged in a ledger, and which all accumulated in the total balance they had to show at the end of the project. One of the decisions they had to make, at about the halfway point of the project, read as follows: “You are asked at Church to donate money to charity. Do you donate $1, $2, or $5?” I looked at the first child’s ledger entry – he chose $1. Then the second: $1. And so on, and so on. With each child I went to, I struck up a conversation inquiring about this selection: Why the lowest amount? Why not the $5 pick? I was told by nearly every child – the point of budgeting is to save money, duh! Why...

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